Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Sunday, October 2, 2022

Cisco Bolsters SDN Push with Embrane Deal 

Cisco Systems launched its software-defined networking protocol called OpFlex last year as a counter to OpenFlow, a move that drew a growing list of partners. Among them is Embrane Inc., a Cisco SDN service partner and a "provider of application-centric network services."

As Cisco fleshes out its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) effort, it announced plans to acquire Embrane, Santa Clara, Calif., to help speed application deployment in the cloud. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Cisco said the acquisition is expected to close by the end of April.

Cisco was an early investor in Embrane, which is among the networking and IT management companies Cisco partnered with last year on its ACI software-defined networking platform initiative. Former Cisco engineers founded Embrane in 2009.

Dante Malagrino, Embrane's co-founder and chief product officer, said the startup has focused on accelerating the adoption of virtualization and automation of networking capabilities in the datacenter. Those efforts will now be directed at building out Cisco's ACI platform, Malagrino added.

"It’s about coexistence of hardware with software and of new with legacy in a way that streamlines and simplifies operations, Malagrino said in a blog post announcing the deal.

Cisco said Embrane's management team would join its Insieme Business unit that developed its next-generation Nexus 9000 SDN switching portfolio.

Cisco also said the Embrane acquisition would help drive its datacenter virtualization and automation efforts while promoting its Nexus switching portfolio and fleshing out its ACI offerings.

Embrane brings with it a package of network application and orchestration services, including an Elastic Services Manager and a flexible server load-balancing tool. The services run on Embrane's "helios" distributed software platform aimed at delivering network applications and services.

"With this acquisition, we continue our commitment to open standards through programmable APIs and multi-vendor environments," Hilton Romanski, Cisco's head of business development, said in a blog post. "We remain committed to the rich ecosystem of partners and customers in production through the automation of network services, cloud and system management orchestration and automation stacks."

The Embrane acquisition also boosts Cisco's OpFlex SDN protocol effort rolled out this time last year. OpFlex is aimed at paralleling the distributed control Cisco integrated into it ACI architecture for switches. The approach targets physical and virtual switches, routers and network applications running Layers 4 through 7 of the network stack.

OpFlex also would help Cisco interoperate with other switching and routing equipment as the datacenter switching market heats up. It also addresses the inevitable rise of SDN in the datacenter by meshing with a growing list of virtual switches, cloud controllers and hypervisors.

Responding to the rise of software-defined networking, Cisco began integrating SDN into its Nexus 9000 network switching chips at the end of 2013.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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